As I write this, for the vast majority of the industry’s drivers, it is exactly six months to the deadline for completion of the first 35 hours of Driver CPC periodic training.
The official statistics suggest that a very large proportion of them will have completed the five days required, and our own members appear to be on target. What we don’t know is exactly how many are behind – in some cases so far behind – a sensible programme and how many will have to do a crash course if they intend to carry on working as a driver after September 10th this year?
Opinions vary, but there is little doubt that a substantial number will have done nothing and that they intend to give up driving when the time comes. Do any of your drivers fall into that category? Have you asked them? More importantly, are you aware of neighbouring companies that have done nothing, expect to lose quite a few drivers so will happily poach your drivers when their own pack the job in?
The timing could not be much worse. As we run in to October, the inevitable seasonal peak of demand for drivers will coincide with an exodus of untrained drivers, with agencies desperate for people to fill the demand that they face.
There is, of course, the possibility that some drivers, who have not completed the training, will decide to take a risk and seek to stay in work illegally. You may have seen that enforcement action has been taken against drivers who have gained licences since 2009, but no CPC.
They have been fined and suspended. There is no reason to believe that the DVSA (successor to VOSA) will behave any differently to drivers with acquired rights and we can expect roadside checks to cover Driver Qualification Cards and well as licences from the 10th September. It might also be possible that operators who have ensured that drivers are properly qualified take exception to other employers flouting the law and notify DVSA of their suspicions. They would, after all, simply be ensuring that they are competing on a level playing field.
The introduction of the Driver CPC has not been widely welcomed, but it has had a number of attractions. Not least it has been flexible, with employer and employee being able to organise training that benefits both. The training has also been available in a variety of formats, locations and timings that have ensured that suitable training is available when and where it is needed.
But there have been issues. Questions have been asked about the quality of some courses, though it has to be said that the customer gets what the customer pays for and if some people want to throw away money on courses that they know or expect to be sub-standard, then that is their decision. Carefully chosen training brings benefits for operators, drivers and the industry as a whole, so the fact that it is compulsory should not concern anyone unduly.